Wednesday, October 16, 2013


James Jakins

              I had found this home several days before. The residents had been kind, and had given me the nourishment I had needed. I sat in their front room, the shades shielding me from the sun. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. But as always when I tried to find sleep, my mind raced back to the day my nightmare had started.

              The days before I had been called to wake were wonderful, I remember still the face of my young bride. Her smile, it always caused my heart to race. Still, just the thought of it causes me more joy, and pain, than I am able to bear. I remember vaguely the city I had helped to build.
I had watched it rise out of the marsh, bloom into a majestic home for my people. A city and a people dedicated to our God. Then that fateful day. The prophet had called me into his office, and personally extended a call. I was to travel to England and share our wonderful message with our brothers across the sea.
              My bride had cried upon hearing the news, but she expressed her pride, and love, for me. She knew that with her prayers I would return to her. If only I had known I would not, could not return, I would have denied that call. For within the week of receiving this call from God, I was to be given another. A call I have ever regretted being forced upon me.
              Three others traveled with me. We made it to a port town on the east coast. I forget its name now. We booked passage on a ship departing the next day. One of my companions found an inn for the night, and scheduled a time for us to preach. We spent the day meeting people on the streets, inviting them to our service.
              An hour before our meeting was scheduled I found myself walking along the rocky shore. The sun had just set. The air still reflecting the last of its light. I breathed in the salt air and I remember smiling. I was so full of joy and pride at being chosen to serve my God. Then I saw the man. I was not sure he was a man. And found a sharp sense of fear in my heart that he might be.
              Never before had I seen a man such as this. So hideous and malnourished. I ran to him. He was naked, but for a few scraps of rag clinging to his shoulder, and the chain that was wrapped around his neck. He was slowly pulling himself out of the waves. I rushed to his side to help him.
              As I touched him, I felt a surge of power pass through my body. A static shock greater than any I had ever felt. He looked at me. His eyes glazed over and unable to focus. But he stared me in the eyes and I saw the look of sadness and despair.
              With speed and strength I had never expected he hooked his hand around my neck and pulled me in close. He placed his mouth directly over my ear and spoke. His voice was weak and sounded pained, but he spoke. I did not understand what he said. I like to believe it was an apology.
              And then he whispered that terrible secret. That secret my kind is forced to face, and share with any of our sleeping brothers we find. I will not share this secret. It is only for us to know.
              As the words escaped his lips I felt my heart begin to pound. It beat more fiercely than it ever did in the presence of my beloved. Every inch of my body grew freezing. Sweat poured off my face onto the ground as I fell to my knees and cried in my shocked pain.
              I looked up and saw my three companions running to my aid. One bent to help me up, but stopped, his face a mask of fear. I followed his gaze. The naked man had killed my friends. His hungry mouth tearing at their flesh.
              “Hurry, brother,” my last companion said. He pulled me too my feet, but I could not stand. He tried to drag me, but the monster wrapped in chains and rags caught him. I lay on my back, my pain worsened by what I was forced to watch.
              Tears filled my eyes as I tried to turn away. Why had we not been given the protection promised us?
              The man, no, the monster, looked down at me. His eyes were no longer glazed, he looked me up and down. His blue eyes took in everything. He looked around the beach. He ran a hand through his thinning blond hair. Then he bent and stripped the clothes from the man he had just killed. A manic laugh passed his lips as the chain fell from around him.
              After he was dressed he came to me. I cringed in fear and tried to get away. He swatted my clawing hands away and picked me up. He threw me over his shoulder and walked into town.
              He spoke again, but I could still not understand. It was like no language I had ever heard. He looked me in the eyes, waiting for a response. I could only offer a fear filled silence. He sighed and looked up at the stars. He stopped and stared. Every second he stared at the sky he became more frantic. He spoke again. This was a question, I could tell that much. When I didn't answer he threw me down. I cried out in pain as he sat down next to me. He slapped me. I ceased making any noise. He sat in silence for a moment then said, “Brother?” it sounded strange, he must have heard my companion speak to me.
              “I am not your brother,” I whispered through my pain. My heart still beating fast. He rolled his eyes. He grabbed me by the throat and I passed out.
              When I awoke I found myself in the room my companions and I had reserved for the night. The shades were closed and I could see the sun was up. As I saw the light through the curtains I felt fear as I have never known. I recoiled at just the thought of someone parting those shades and inviting the sun in.
              “Awake?” I turned and found myself staring at the monster from the shore. I fell out of the bed and crawled backwards away from him. I could not bring myself to scream for help.
              He stood up and walked towards me slowly. His hand out in front of him. He made  soothing sounds. Like he was trying to calm down a wild animal. I hit a wall and pulled myself into a ball. The memories of the night before filling my mind.
              He slowly laid a hand on my shoulder. Again I felt the same shock as the night before. Only no pain or surprise accompanied it this time. I felt calm, and at peace. I felt like this man was a brother. I looked at him.
              He smiled at me and helped me stand up. He placed a hand to his chest, “Blaker,” he said. Then pointed at me. I told him my name and he nodded. He held up his hands, telling me to wait where I was. He ran into the hallway and came back leading a young man. The man was bound at the wrists. His mouth gagged. His shirt had blood on it, and his eyes were wide with fear.
              Never before had I been more hungry. And never before had I enjoyed a meal such as this.
Afterwards, when I came to my senses and realized what I had done I cried. It must have been for hours. I just stood at the end of the bed and cried. Blaker sat on a chair in the corner and waited. Patiently he watched me. When I finally looked at him I saw the sympathy in his eyes. He just nodded and pointed to himself. He had felt the same.
              I can't say how long we stayed in the inn. I do remember that we left one night when the locals discovered the owner and his family absent. A group of men armed with rifles found our room while we were out finding a fresh meal. I was not hungry, but Blaker had explained using his hands and the few English words I had taught him, that he had not eaten in many many years. But I went with. I felt safer with him. Even though he had killed my companions, I now knew he had no real say. He had acted on instinct.
              We returned to the inn to find men with rifles and torches surrounding the building. They knew we would come back. One of the men saw us and pointed towards us. Blaker just smiled. He indicated that I should wait for him. He charged the waiting group of men. I watched in horror as he slaughtered them all. He would scream in rage and pain in time with the report of the weapons. But he never stopped moving. I remember there being a lot of men. Probably twenty or more. Blaker killed them all. He came back to me. His clothes shredded and his body covered in blood. His own and that of the men. He smiled a terrible smile and told me he was no longer hungry.
             He dressed himself with what he could find intact on the group of vigilantes and we left the town. Subconsciously I led us back towards my home. I had promised myself I would not bring this evil to my people. I woke up one night and realized where we were. It was only a few hours before we would be at my door. Blaker, with his mixture of hands and broken English explained he could sense food close by.
              I tried to explain we couldn't go there. He of course didn't understand my words, but I believe he understood my desire to avoid the city. He said a word I had never taught him, “Home?”
              “Yes,” I responded, “my home. My people,” I stared at the stars and wept. I would never see my wife again.             
              Blaker understood me, “Come. No feed. Just see.”
              I stood outside my home. I still weep to think of what I saw. She was there. Standing just inside the open door. She was staring at the stars. Perhaps believing I could see them too. There would have been no one to tell her of the tragedy that had befallen my group. She kissed her hand and raised it to the sky. I had expected a fight with my new instincts. But not once on seeing her face had any thought of feeding made itself known. Just a desire to rush to her side. To tell her all was well. But all was not well.
              Blaker and I broke into the local general store. I stole some paper and wrote my wife a letter. Before I finished it I thought better. I wrote a letter to Brother Joseph. Explaining that his missionaries were all dead. Murdered by vagrants. I felt I could trust him to share the news gently. I included the names of all my companions, and put myself last on the list.
              We left everything as we had found it and departed. I caught Blaker staring intently at the temple. It's construction not yet complete. I saw sadness in his eyes.
              I stayed with Blaker only long enough to teach him English. After I could understand him well enough to learn his whole story he decided he didn't want to share.
              Our last day together we sat together in a cave we had found. Staring at the lighted fields outside. He looked at me, “Tell me something, brother,” he never called me by name, “those men, by the sea the day I woke you,” he paused, staring at something that was not there, “the four of you were ministers, weren't you?”
              I nodded, “Yes, we were brothers in the restored gospel of Christ,” I could feel tears fill my eyes.
              “I see. And that city, your home. It was a city you had built to God?” I nodded again, “And you say Christ? Is there such a man now?”
              “There was. He lived and died almost two thousand years ago.”
              “Interesting. He was not yet born when I was cast in the sea the first time. I knew several men who spoke of his coming,” he looked at me, “both were like us. One tried to live life without sin. After he woke he denied himself the desires of his flesh. He never fed.”
              “He could live without feeding?” I asked, “How? I can't bear to be around others. The desire is always there.”
              “With time, you will grow used to it, and it is easier to deny. I think you may choose that life, brother. You were a good man.”
              “I don't know if I can go back,” I responded. The sun was setting. I watched the shadows stretch across the land. Once the world was in darkness I turned to Blaker, “What of the other? The other man like us who spoke of the coming of Christ?”
              Blaker stood and exited the cave, “He is as we are.” I have never seen Blaker again. I have never met another like me.
              It has been almost two hundred years since that time. I followed the saints for a while. I kept guard over several wagon trains. Keeping watch at night. I watched my wife's children grow, and pass. They belonged to another man, but I watched them. I never could fight my desire to feed, but I tried. For many years I resisted. And when I could take it no more I left.
              Now, here I sit. In the dark. In a small home surrounded by miles of trees and winding country roads. The nice couple that let me in rest forever now. I left them in their kitchen. They deserve a burial. I always call the police and report what I have done before I leave.
              I could sense them before the knock came. I opened my eyes and considered. I could just wait. Let them leave. But they may be expected. My host's truck was still outside. The guests may be curious. And I couldn't leave for another hour. The sun was still up. I slipped to the door and looked at the new guests.
              Two young men. My heart leaped as it had not in years. The name tags. I had been as these men once. I opened the door without thinking. The porch was covered and no sun could reach me.
              “Can I help you?” I asked. My eyes inspecting every inch. I savored my own bittersweet memories as they spoke.
              “Hello, sir,” one began in a rehearsed stage voice, “I'm Elder Jordon and this is my companion  Elder Smith. We have a wonderful message to share with you today if you have the time,” they both looked at me expectantly.
              “I've heard it before boys,” I said reluctantly. I wasn't going to risk it, “but you wouldn't by chance have an extra Book of Mormon I could have would you?”
              “Of course,” the other began excitedly, “When have you heard our message?”
              “Years ago,” I answered accepting the book.
              “Would you have time to hear more?” He asked.
              “Not now I'm afraid. I have a lot of work to do today, but I'm sure when the time is right I'll be able to find you.”
              “Well, maybe you could give us your number and we'll give you a call,” the first put in again, his voice slightly more real.
              “My phone isn't working at the moment,” I said shrugging my shoulders, “But why don't you give me your information and I'll find you when I'm ready.”
              “Um, sure,” was his answer, “Here's a pamphlet that has our first basic message in it, our names and number are on the back.”
              “Thank you very much,” I said holding out my hand.
              The first accepted my hand with a smile, “No, thank you. We appreciate your time.”
              The other, Elder Smith, took my hand and I felt the shock go through my body. He looked at his hand in confusion. I stood in terrified silence.
              “I'm sorry, boys, you'd better go,” I slammed the door. I paced back and forth. It was there. Echoing in my head. The terrible secret Blaker had told me centuries before. It had to be shared, I could feel it. Greater than my desire for a meal was my desire to whisper in that young man's ear. I watched out the window as they went on down the road. I would be able to find him.
              An hour later the sun went down and I picked up the phone. “Yes, I'd like to report a murder.”
the bored voice on the other end got a little more excited.
              “Is this the Cochran residence?”
              “Yes, I believe that was their name,” I felt a pang of regret, as I always did.             
              “Their name? The Cochrans are the victims?” the woman asked me.
              “Yes, I'm in their kitchen right now. Would you please send someone over?”
              “Yes, of course. And what was your name, sir?” She asked.
              “I can't tell you that,” I said.
              “Why not, sir?” She asked me.
              “Because I killed them,” I hung up the phone and walked out of the kitchen. The sun was down. I went outside and breathed deep.
              I could sense the direction Smith had gone. I was going to find him, I hadn't decided if I was going to share the secret or save him from the life I had been given. Either way I knew something then better than I had in years. I was a monster.

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Unwoken by James Jakins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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